Tag Archives: commentary

Reactions and Counter-Reactions

From killerbethy:

I think it’s hilarious how many people are taking offense to a review that doesn’t even say it’s bad. The point of the review is that if you aren’t into the whole idol thing, you probably won’t like the show. On the other hand if you do, then they actually did a good job with it. If you don’t know about AKB48 or don’t like them, the storyline of the anime probably won’t make it into your favorites.

On a side note… I lived in Japan for a good portion of my life, spent part of high school there and college (as well as several years in China and one in South Korea). That being said, I’m no stranger to idol culture, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I’m going to hop on the AKB48 bandwagon either. And, yes, I’ve seen Macross. Hell, I’ve been to the Macross Cafe in Japan. I wouldn’t jump to saying I’m “too American” just because my picture shows that I’m white. Racism goes both ways, buddy. 

So, thank you. Please insert 25 cents to try again.

Beth: I’m sorry if I underestimated you, there are things that you may be correct about, but then if the objective of the anime is to earn additional profit for its creators/managers at the expense of supposed art and good taste, then it could be true in case with other forms of pop music, not just j-pop; it’s too easy for me to recall rock musicians who were in conflict with their managers, or rap musicians arguing with record executives, but their music is still there despite the behind-the-scenes strife.

The point is, the reason why I said “you’re too American” is that there are those Westerners who can’t adjust themselves to Japan, and usually they whine most of the time about everything because they couldn’t adjust to a largely alien culture, and indeed on an online daily like Japan Today, whenever AKB is mentioned in an article they screech and find them annoying.

If they can’t get along, they shouldn’t have come in the first place.

The other day I sought to find out why those girls want to be an idol, even with the supposed dark side of that industry lingering like a dark miasma (Perfect Blue comes into mind), and so I read the members’ personal blogs and mementos of their daily lives, until I realized they were sharing the same motivations as that of the geisha a century ago; like nuns or monks they were willing to sacrifice bits and pieces of themselves in exchange for a higher calling they think would bring themselves happiness.

And then I finally understood; it is a difficult life those idols have to bear and they couldn’t please everyone but they’re right up there; they feel it is their ultimate life-changing reward, having fought their way to the top together and made sacrifices to become what they really wanted to be, no matter how much they’re earning everyday… and from there they feel they could make it anywhere — as actresses, singers, voice actors, etc. — after a period of time.

Now in AKB’s case, if any of its members feel that the management is shafting them, they’re not afraid to air their objections in public and thus force the management to address their problems.

As much as some people express their dislike towards those idols, the management behind them, and the system as a whole, respect still has to be given because those girls feel that it’s their duty in society to make their audience happy, no matter how hard it is to perform, to sing and dance.


More than Just a Pretty Face

Reproduced from my reaction to Bluemist’s blog entry entitled The Melancholy of Idols.

At first, I look at this thing with complete indifference, thinking it’s worse than current-gen pop music (be it Western or, God forbid, K-pop). But then it took me considerable time of research, delving into what motivates a girl to become an idol, despite the negative perceptions associated with it, as well as seeing a unique symbiosis between her and the audience (guess I’ll read more about Drucker and the utility of an employee or a corporation towards society).

In peeling away the artifice and the manufactured image, I find her imperfections, vulnerabilities, as well as character strengths and possibilities that she thought to be dormant and untapped.

Even the producer/creator/songwriter himself, the man in charge of the idols under his care, also has his imperfections and rarely do they admit to anything or take the risk of being transparent and frank about the creation he engendered; in the chain of command, he takes the most blows and criticism, and should the situation demands it (in case of grave scandal or misconduct or total disaster) he offers himself to resign.

Eventually I find in her things that I could relate with, things that make her human more than just a commodity or a product.

Finally, what diligence she made from her audition into what she is now, has struck me as I discover parallels between her development and that of the classic geisha; a geisha serves a magnate or a politician in privacy, while an idol performs in service to hundreds, thousands or even millions. Both have made personal sacrifices in an attempt to attain perfection and an ideal image of themselves and to society, as though they share a common link with nuns, priestesses or monks.

Like the geisha, an idol is a servant, but emotionally in control and her resolve and diplomacy strengthened by experience and expertise, a potentially powerful individual who could convince more than any geezer of a Japanese politician could ever hope to get in their lifetimes… So, even if the chances could be remote, I will not be surprised should, say, someone resolute like Takahashi Minami becomes the first female Prime Minister of Japan.

That said, “hate” is too much of a harsh word.


Revisiting Pansuto

‘Tang-ina… WHAHAHAHAHA!

After seeing for myself what Ghostlightning talked about, looks like I’ll have to watch the last few episodes of PaSwG.

As a PEXer said once about Pansuto, paraphrasing a well-known tagline made by a now-gone local b-movie company: “If it’s from Gainax, it must be good”.

Damn right. xD


A Puzzle Than Just Mere Fiction

“Evangelion is like a puzzle, you know. Any person can see it and give his/her own answer. In other words, we’re offering viewers to think by themselves, so that each person can imagine his/her own world. We will never offer the answers, even in the theatrical version. As for many Evangelion viewers, they may expect us to provide the ‘all-about Eva’ manuals, but there is no such thing. Don’t expect to get answers by someone. Don’t expect to be catered to all the time. We all have to find our own answers.”

– Anno Hideaki – PA #43, translated by Miyako Graham from 11/96 Newtype – quoted from MDWigs



In Defense of Light and Water

Just a day ago, on FFN I received an anonymous critique, the lengthiest I ever encountered since I first wrote down the fic. Now let me quote first the full commentary (and my original response is in Evageeks.org)… Continue reading


Wearing the Shoes

I’m sorry if I’ve been out of the loop for a while.

To sum it up, I had to take care of some real-life issues, such as taking care of the household, trying to meet the needs of people living at home. Apart from that, I’m trying to get some new story ideas as I work, and in the case of Nineteen I’m picking up some research material which soon I could use in the story.

I admit that, of the characters I tried to portray well in the two stories I write, only the characters from Marimite are the more difficult; the Eva characters are easy for me to deal with, because over the years I have become well-acquainted with their imperfect personalities, emotions, quirks and idiosyncrasies, thanks to the accompanying screenshots, fan-made information sites (such as Evageeks), fanfiction and fanart.

Marimite, suffice to say, exists in a different world closer to reality, and therefore the need for more realistic dialogue and settings; even after repeating viewings of the anime (and I do have all four seasons in my possession) I still find it a bit difficult trying to put myself into the girls’ shoes (except maybe for Sachiko, whose personality is closer to mine) and see the world from their point of view. Given the time constraint I have, I wonder if I could do the same technique I used with the Eva characters and bring out a successful portrayal.

That means that I need to dig in more, by reading the translated parts of the light novel, and perusing the manga adaptation.

Now, I still need a bit more time to rest, before I finally have the courage to write another chapter.

You and I have to hang on for a while… A little patience, people.


Candido’s Apocalypse

Among the pieces of local literature (read: by Filipino writers) I came across (the other are books by Jose Rizal and of the famous Bob Ong), the best piece is Candido’s Apocalypse, from the late Nick Joaquin, the closest thing one could get to a NGE mind-screw – and predating NGE completely by almost four decades.

As I read it for the first time, I found myself drawing parallels between Candido and Shinji, despite they’re decades apart (Candido in the 70’s; Shinji in five years from now), for them the world has antagonized them, a growing nightmare drawing upon their eyes in stages; both are troubled (but Candido is rebellious; Shinji has this sense of inferiority), but sometimes they have moments of respite from the madness (Candido and his buddies go on a drinking spree; Shinji eating ramen at the dimsum stand with the rest of the gang). There are instances of blind rage, angst (correct me if I’m wrong), inner turmoil, near-insanity, hallucinations, and philosophical and painful pondering  on the meaning of life.

Right at the moment, it seems that you’ll have to find the book somewhere (it’s part of a compilation called Tropic Gothic) or go browsing some high school textbooks to look for the full version (the extracts don’t do any justice, however).

(Sidenote: I pity some of those who were trying to find a summary for it, as not everyone has a copy, and apparently their public school library don’t have much in the way of bountiful literary stocks.)

I can’t tell you much, but I recommend this book – absolutely, and mind-blowing as the author himself.

Candido’s Apocalypse is available from AnvilPublishing.com, or maybe sold at your nearest bookstore.


Tomorrow’s Friday.

Guys, it’s been days since the last chapter.

Dunno but right now I’m on a quandary, stuck with a writer’s block, trying to guess what to do with Chapter 28, and figuring out a way to write down Chapter 30. Of course, I can’t spoil you the details, but some of you are pretty sure that something’s going to happen.

Part of the reason why there’s some slow progress, is that ever since I had a niece I’m forced to take on more household duties than ever before; had to work longer hours trying to take care of a very difficult, high-maintenance household. I’m worried at the same time, that with the exhaustion comes the inability to think clearly. In contrast, just a few months ago, I had only a few distractions and enough time to brainstorm; I was on a damn helluva roll, even going as far as uploading two chapters within two days.

(sighs)

Things have very much changed in the last ten years, especially with fanfics and the fandom. More than ten years ago, there’s about two dozen or so Evafic authors who were able to churn out surprisingly excellent work, which, if compared to now, they were the definite trendsetters, and some of them are genre templates for the fanfiction we see and read today.

In my case, judging from my observations, the most popular Evafics now are often those cut into the Gurren Lagann mold of comedy/parody; there’s also the one-shot fics, the WAFF, the pairings and the other usual formulaic fics. They’re hot, they maybe flawed, but almost everyone reads it to appease their fan longing.

On the other end of the spectrum are those fanfics that attempt to bend the rules, trying not to be pigeonholed or categorized, making the most of the material and the themes in Eva; these fics are often well-written or experimental, as though the writer is trying to turn his/her tale into a launchpad for serious professional writing.

But the problem is that, it seems for me, most readers prefer familiar settings and plot. Makes you realize that you could draw parallels between fanfiction and real-life entertainment and literature: you’re competing with everyone else in the same field, fighting to be on top, and it’s really hard. In the case of the Evafic archive at fanfiction.net, the one who updates most frequently gets to be on top of the list; the fic that can produce the most laughs or the WAFFyness gets bookmarked for life.

No, I’m not jealous or something negative, but being a fanfic writer isn’t an easy thing to do, worrying about readability, delivery dates, statistics, criticism, how long I have to keep on writing… and above all, trying to balance my pressing real-life priorities.

But I want to emphasize this again: I’m not going to drop this until it’s done with and I can die on the bed someday knowing that I have wrought the product of my mind for everyone to consume and share.

Now, excuse me as I begin to fire up Word…


On the Issue of “Endlessly Re-Interpretable”

From EFML, in reaction to EvaMonkey’s opinion:

Thinking KajiLet’s see if we could take that concept any further, by considering fanfiction and doujinshi: As a fanfic writer who has just gone far to keep a piece of writing alive, I beg to differ, that Eva, its characters and story gives us writers a precedent.

To begin with, consider this statement coming from the Newtype Filmbook, for one particular scene:

“Amidst the many words of congratulations, a faint smile starts at the corners of Shinji’s mouth (and spreads across his face). A happy face — that is the figure of the Complemented Shinji. This conclusion is also one form, ONE POSSIBILITY AMONG MANY.” (Translated by Bochan Bird) http://www.evaotaku.com/html/evafaq.html

What does those caps-locked words mean? For me there’s a lot of possible ends for him, and it’s really up to anyone to interpret how he would eventually end up.

Like any other fandom, we fanfic writers and doujin artists take up that challenge of interpreting that familiar universe and some world-building, but it depends on what the writer/artist wants to do: with a little fertile imagination and as long the characters and the spirit of the story remain intact (IMHO Eva is a people-centric, character-driven tale), he/she can go as close to canon as they want, or with an altered continuity and a self-inserted character (say, something along the lines of Strike Fiss’ Higher Learning or Re-TAKE), or go break some of the rules and punch out of the box with a completely altered universe (Rakna’s Chosen or Biles’ COAEG).

True, some have messed up Eva completely to the point of turning it into a repelling lemonized orgyfest, but not all fanfic writers and doujin artists are total jerks, perverts or social deviants; there always will be many well-meaning and creative fans who respect Eva and its essence, and willing to keep the story alive and fresh through many good interpretations.